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Bunnies, Eggs and Easter

It is Easter all around the globe. As a Jew, I know Easter is about the death and resurrection of Christ. I could never, however, work out what bunnies and eggs had to do with this Holiday.

So I asked a few gentile friends if they knew, but nobody could tell me, so I turned to my trusty friend, Google.

Here’s what I found out. Both the bunny and the eggs were introduced around the 15th century. The tradition then moved to Pennsylvania in the US with the German community.

The Easter Bunny

How did a bunny come to be involved in Easter? Two main sources came up with an explanation. The first is the University of Florida (USA) Centre for Children’s Literature and Culture.

There was a pagan holiday in Germany around the time of Easter, for the goddess of spring and fertility, Eostra, and her favoured form was a hare.

Oestra and her hare
Oestra and her hare

In Medieval times it was believed that the hare was a hermaphrodite and could, therefore, give birth without the loss of virginity and so became associated with the Virgin Mary. As Germany became Christianised, the two holiday customs merged.  To this day, if you look, there are still some churches with hares in their art work.

A little known fact is that a female hare can be pregnant with one litter and conceive a second one at the same time. The poor beleaguered dear!

It turns out that the Easter bunny is actually an Easter Hare.

The Easter bunny is a hare!
The Easter bunny is a hare!

Hare Coloured Eggs?

Next question, how does one get eggs from a hare?

It really is a child’s tale, but the story goes, that a young girl child found an injured bird and prayed to Eostra, who came and changed the bird into her favourite form, a hare, and the bird was healed. As a reward for her kindness and caring, Eostra told the little girl that every year she would give the girl coloured eggs as a remembrance of her kindness.

During the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter, it is a tradition not to eat eggs.  The only way to preserve the eggs, before refrigeration, was to boil or roast them. They were obviously then painted and decorated for the end of the Lent fast.

Easter eggs, that have been decorated
Easter eggs, that have been decorated

There you have it; this is how a hare gives eggs!  I am very grateful we have moved on from boiled painted eggs to chocolate ones.

My kind of egg!
My kind of egg!

Now that you know what bunnies and eggs have to do with Easter, please feel free to enlighten others by sharing this post with your family and friends. Happy Easter to those who celebrate.

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